What Is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder that hinders your ability to communicate with others. Often caused by stroke or a head injury, it can impact your ability to talk, write or understand words. When it occurs, aphasia can be both confusing and alarming for you.

Types of aphasia

Depending on your symptoms, aphasia is broken down into four primary categories:

  • Expressive aphasia: means you have trouble speaking or writing
  • Receptive aphasia: indicates that you have difficulty understanding what others are saying, or what you are reading
  • Amnesia aphasia: when you have trouble using the correct words or names for things
  • Global aphasia: a complete loss of ability to relay or understand language information or follow directions

Your physician may also refer to your aphasia as fluent or non-fluent.

Wernicke aphasia (fluent)

Most often resulting from damage to the left temporal lobe of your brain, fluent aphasia can cause you to speak in long, meaningless sentences that can involve made-up words. You may have particular difficulty understanding speech and be unaware of your own inability to communicate.

Broca aphasia (non-fluent)

Typically resulting from damage to the frontal lobe of your brain, this form of aphasia may cause you to speak in short phrases that make sense, but omit small words and require great effort on your part. For example, you may mean to say, “I will rest in my bed now," yet it may come out as “Will rest bed.” Often, you are able to understand others fairly well and are frustrated by your own impaired ability to communicate.

If someone you love develops aphasia, Northwestern Medicine is home to skilled neurologists*, speech therapists and other caring professionals who can provide the diagnosis, treatment and support you need.

Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center

The Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center offers comprehensive care for stroke, including advanced diagnostic imaging, multi-modal treatment and rehabilitation for patients with stroke and cerebrovascular disease.

Physician specialists at the Stroke Center have clinical and research expertise in:

  • Neurocritical care
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Interventional neuroradiology
  • Neurological rehabilitation

Members of the Stroke Center team work with specialists from the Shirley Ryan Abilitylab to optimize rehabilitation following stroke. Shirley Ryan Abilitylab physicians and occupational and physical therapists evaluate each patient's needs to help determine the most appropriate plan of care after discharge.

The Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital

The Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is staffed by physicians from the Northwestern Medical Group, a multispecialty group practice of the full-time faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Offering a comprehensive array of diagnostic, therapeutic, and innovative care, the clinic has a multidisciplinary staff that includes behavioral neurologists, neuropsychologists, neuropsychiatrists, and licensed clinical social workers.

Through the Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic, we treat the whole patient and offer support services for both patients and their families. Our treatment plan includes:

  • Evaluation of memory and other thinking abilities using specialized tests
  • Psychiatric evaluation and treatment for associated mood and behavior disorders
  • Assessment and follow-up care by behavioral neurologists dedicated to treating those with dementia
  • Disease education, counseling, and referrals to community support services
  • Research opportunities to participate in leading-edge research on Alzheimer's dementia, frontotemporal dementia and primary progressive aphasia

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital's new Wood-Prince Family Stroke Center enables Northwestern Medicine to enhance our existing stroke care and advance the emergency care we provide to residents of Lake County.

Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) has been awarded the Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation by The Joint Commission. This level of certification recognizes the significant resources in staff, training and state-of-the-art infrastructure that comprehensive stroke centers must have to treat complex cases, including:

  • Round-the-clock access to advanced imaging capabilities and treatment options including IVt-PA clot-dissolving medication, endovascular interventions and clinical trials
  • Staff who are educated to care for complex stroke patients throughout the continuum of care, from EMS to discharge
  • A specially trained multidisciplinary team* to coordinate individualized post-hospital care and goals for each patient
  • 24/7 access to a comprehensive stroke team* that includes neurologists, interventional neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons, neuro intensivists, neuro rehabilitation specialists, nurses, therapists, case managers and social workers

Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital has been awarded the Advanced Primary Stroke Center Certification by The Joint Commission. This certification recognizes that the services provided have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes. It is a signal to the community that the quality of care provided is effectively managed to meet the unique and specialized needs of the stroke patients. Services provided include:

  • Round-the-clock access to advanced imaging capabilities and treatment with IVt-PA clot-dissolving medication
  • Staff educated in the care of stroke patients throughout the continuum of care, from EMS to discharge     
  • Board-certified physicians* including neurologists and neurosurgeons
  • Rehabilitation services throughout the continuum of care including post discharge

The Northwestern Medicine Aphasia Center at Marianjoy is designed for anyone who is experiencing aphasia and would like to improve his or her communication skills. Led by a speech-language pathologist with expertise in language disorders, small group sessions provide a comfortable and supportive environment for participants to practice their skills through real-life activities.

If you would like to register for the Northwestern Medicine Aphasia Center at Marianjoy, have questions regarding the program, individual treatment sessions or the aphasia research studies, please call 630.909.8562.

Click here to learn more about the Aphasia Center at Marianjoy.

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In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, the individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.